When I put up the ceramic tile in my kitchen, I actually used a hand trowel. Now, I’m not talking about a garden trowel, but a trowel to spread the paste with.
We had two different kinds. One had little jagged edges on one of the short sides and on one of the long sides. The other trowel-like thing actually had a rubbery kind of surface.
These things worked great when we were trying to get the glue on the wall. You used the straight edge sides of the complete metal one to goop the stuff on there with. Then you used the jagged edges of the hand trowel for wall texture. This created a better surface so that the tiles would stick more securely.
The little rubber trowel-thingy we used after we had hung the tile. Very nifty tools indeed!